SBNation is a strange hybrid: It’s hired lots of actual journalists in its attempts to become a more professional sports news site, but at it’s heart it’s still the collection of sports blogs that it was at its founding in 2009. (It’s what the “SB” stands for.) And so you still get the occasional rant like this one by D.C. United fan Ben Bromley, who is plumb outraged that some people testified at a recent public hearing that D.C. should look at renovating RFK Stadium before spending $140 million or maybe $200 million or who knows on a new soccer-only stadium at Buzzard Point.
Let’s take Bromley’s claims one at a time in the order that he presents them, though in order of the crazy scale would also be fun:
- “RFK Stadium is infested with rats, racoons, wasps, and probably a myriad of other creatures.”
First off, it’s “raccoons.” (Blogs don’t copyedit, I guess, though these days neither do newspapers.) More seriously: Seriously? Of all the things wrong with a building, a rat infestation is about the easiest to solve. It’s like complaining that you need to tear your house down because it needs a paint job.
- “Its concession don’t make enough money, it doesn’t have luxury boxes, it was built for football and baseball, and it is literally crumbling.”
The first two are true (though that should be “concessions”), but are also presumably what a renovation would be all about upgrading. “Built for football and baseball” is a less easily fixable problem, but given that the fantastically successful Seattle Sounders play in a football stadium, not an insurmountable one. As for “literally crumbling,” that claim has a long history in stadium battles, dating back at least to Bo Schembechler’s “We will not be shackled to a rusty girder!” speech regarding Tiger Stadium, but no, RFK Stadium isn’t actually having small pieces fall off of it, though maybe this can also be chalked up to the lack of copy editors.
- “A major renovation of the stadium would likely cost well over the cost of a new stadium. For example, proposed renovations to the Rogers Centre, a similarly styled stadium of a similar age, would cost over $250 million to retrofit and modernize the stadium.”
The Rogers Centre, formerly the Skydome, was built 30 years after RFK Stadium and features a retractable roof, restaurants, and a hotel, much of which will be the focus of the building’s upgrades. (Which won’t actually necessarily cost $250 million — this was just one estimate of the amount of work the Toronto Blue Jays would like to see done over the next decade, according to team president Paul Beeston, famed as the guy who said he could make sports accounting numbers show anything he wanted.) Nobody knows what a renovation of RFK for soccer would cost, which is exactly the point that critics of the Buzzard Point deal are making.
- “And the land upon which the stadium sits is owned by the Federal government, who would have to give approval if the District wanted to just tear down the stadium and build a new one in its place. One of the only deliberative bodies more dysfunctional than the D.C. Council is our beloved Federal government.”
RFK is actually owned by the National Park Service, so fortunately a new stadium wouldn’t have to go through the House Agriculture Committee or anything. But everyone hates the federal government these days, so come right in, straw man!
Renovating RFK certainly wouldn’t be an easy solution, and might well turn out to be more expensive than it’s worth. And really, the focus at this point should be more on why the heck D.C. is preparing to give its soccer team more than twice as much in subsidies as the typical MLS team has received, especially when D.C. United’s relocation options are slim to nonexistent. But it’s absolutely an option worth exploring — it just might be feasible, if they can figure out a way to deal with the rabbid racoons.